It’s impractical to think that your barn will be able to retain all of the same customers indefinitely. Horse owners' goals change—they might move up to a different level of competition than your barn offers or even switch disciplines. A client might decide to take a break from owning a horse or a client might relocate to another area for a new job. Sometimes, it’s mutually beneficial that a customer moves on to a different facility because of differing perspectives and needs.
“Of course, the first rule of any business is to retain customers and build a loyal relationship with them,” said Sunni McCormick, owner of Encore Performance Horses in California. “Over time you can’t keep 100% of your clients, so finding new clients is essential.”
Marketing should be a long-term, ongoing process so that when a potential customer is looking for a place to go, they think of your stable. McCormick said it’s important to be clear and intentional about your goals and services to attract like-minded people.
“Everyone ghaving the same goals improves your likelihood for helping people achieve those goals,” she said.
McCormick uses social media, specifically Facebook, to promote her training business. She regularly posts horse show results and updates on how clients in the barn are achieving personal equestrian goals.
Social media certainly isn’t a guarantee your barn will be full, and it isn’t the only way to reach new customers, but it is an important method for reaching out to existing and new clients. There’s an ever-growing list of platforms to choose from, and the programming that determines how each platform works is always changing. Resist the temptation to set up an account with every platform available. It’s better to master your use of one or two platforms rather than trying to be a “jack of all trades” and failing at all of them. Choose one or two that fit your goals and follow through.
Most of all be honest about the services and facilities you offer in order to let horse owners know if they are a good fit for your program. Also remember to promote how you are different in order to let horse owners know how to differentiate your facility from another one. Do you have an indoor? Do you have trainers or riding instructors who regularly work with horses in a specific discipline? Do you have trails? Do you offer free trailer parking?
Telling your story is important on an ongoing basis so people who might be interested in your facility or services can keep you on their radar or so other horse folks can share your information when friends are looking for a farm to call home.